Aside from revealing an incredible level of continued borrowing and a Minnis administration reluctant to confront reality, this year’s budget debate has so far been less than illuminating, other than to remind us of Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ deficiencies as a leader.
No matter how competent a team can be assembled, the success of any organization depends chiefly on competent, effective leadership.
A good leader is effective at bringing people together while maintaining the focus and direction of an organization and concurrently minimizing distractions.
Even the best leader will at times have dissent within the ranks of an organization, but a good leader will manage their affairs to the point that such dissent does not fracture public confidence in that organization.
The prime minister is a man of many accomplishments upon whom fate has smiled kindly, but under his leadership, the Free National Movement (FNM) has become something barely recognizable and our national politics have suffered for it.
During this debate, numerous members of Parliament who came to the House on the FNM ticket have piled on the Minnis administration with an abandon that we cannot recall witnessing before.
That so many MPs who ran on the party’s ticket feel so aggrieved by the prime minister that they would go to the extent of airing their grievances so publicly is unprecedented.
We have seen differences in opinions on governance from members of the same party before, but things seem to have sunk to an intensely personal level.
And we have never seen any prime minister alienate so many of his party’s members of Parliament in a single term in office.
It speaks to a party under Minnis that has seen grown within it a culture of disloyalty, disunity and disaffection.
In addition to losing four members of his Cabinet, he has formally lost three members of Parliament this term.
And he has shut several more members of Parliament out of nominations for reasons that he has not yet deigned to make clear to the public, and has shown he is not above throwing it in their faces.
He openly gloated when announcing who he believed the next member of Parliament for Fort Charlotte would be as the current FNM MP for Fort Charlotte, who had intended to run on the party’s ticket again, sat across from him.
Mark Humes felt so offended he rose to upbraid the prime minister about the level of disrespect displayed.
Also denied another nomination, outgoing FNM MP for Seabreeze Lanisha Rolle yesterday unleashed a torrent of sour grapes over her treatment as the sole female member of Cabinet; and the specter of possible wrongdoing intimated in the Cabinet Office’s response to her resignation.
When Minnis faced a leadership crisis in his party and in Parliament, Rolle was Minnis’ chief defender.
In the end, her loyalty could not save her.
Nor could it save outgoing FNM MP for East Grand Bahama and former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest, who was also denied another nomination.
After years of standing by Minnis, he was discarded just as quickly as was House Speaker Halson Moultrie, a former FNM who went independent after learning he, too, would be denied another nomination by the party.
Moultrie has since rarely missed an opportunity to openly display his hostility toward the prime minister – another precedent in an independent Bahamas.
Personal conviction is also apparently of little value in today’s FNM.
Frederick McAlpine, who, along with two others, was fired from an appointed post after voting against the value-added tax hike in 2018, remains an FNM in name only at this point.
However, after appearing to be on a singular mission to burn the Minnis administration to the ground for several years, he should hardly be surprised that he will also be denied another nomination.
“I don’t think that former Prime Minister Ingraham has many regrets, but if he does, I know it would be you,” McAlpine acidly told Minnis’ empty seat on the floor of the House yesterday.
That former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and his supporters are now persona non grata in the party, speaks volumes.
It appears today that the camaraderie that appeared to have existed in the FNM in May 2017, was a marriage of convenience absent of real love or affection.
Elected with a historic mandate to govern, it is no longer clear that the FNM retains the confidence of the electorate.
And that rests squarely on the shoulders of the party’s leader.